Primarily for financial reasons, many in the healthcare industry still cling to the all-paper office. Nearly 50% of U.S. outpatient physicians do not use an electronic records system. Over 65% of physicians that have not implemented an electronic health records (EHR) system cited as their main justification the high costs of installation and training. Of the half abstaining from adopting an EHR, over 55% claimed that financial incentives would tip the cost-benefit balance and persuade them to switch to electronic recordkeeping. Other barriers exist to the widespread digitization of medical records, however. For instance, some question the security of EHR systems. And others point out that the privacy risks outweigh the benefits of accessible and transportable electronic medical records.
Until recently, another significant obstacle to EHR adoption has been their inability to promise or provide benefits directly to physicians. EHRs allow patients to receive faster, better, and more consistent service from multiple healthcare providers (family doctors, specialists, in-hospital physicians, pharmacies). Electronic medical records also provide researchers and disease control experts with an accurate, up-to-date, and all-encompassing source of nationwide health data. But because the increased efficiency of EHRs has never been extensive enough to offset the costs of implementation and training, doctors have never had a financial or market-based incentive to adopt an electronic records system. Furthermore, nearly half of U.S. physicians are 55 years and older. Many of these older doctors have neither the ability nor the desire to adopt and productively utilize information technology systems.
Recent regulatory and technological developments have increased the financial incentives for EHR adoption, however. First, the HITECH Act of 2009 rewards physicians that implement and demonstrate “meaningful use” of EHR systems with up to $100,000 in Medicare and Medicaid payments. Second, the expenses of purchasing, installing, and hosting an EHR deployment has declined, primarily due to the cost-efficiency of cloud-based systems.
Also, the facts prove that a properly-maintained EHR does not endanger the security and privacy of patient information more than a paper recordkeeping system. Software Advice’s report on HIPAA data breach violations from 2009-2011 concluded that hacking only accounted for 6% of incidents. Conversely, almost 70% of incidents involved physical theft, loss, or improper disposal of paper records and hard drives. And of the 2% of incidents that directly involved EHRs, 100% of them involved on-premise systems.
Externally-hosted cloud-based EHRs offer many benefits over on-premise solutions, not to mention paper recordkeeping systems. 1) Many independent and small practice healthcare providers do not have an existing IT infrastructure or any on-staff technical personnel. 2) An externally-hosted, cloud-based EHR costs much less than an on-premise EHR that a healthcare provider builds, implements, and manages for itself. 3) State laws require physicians to maintain patient records for between 20-100 years. Cloud-based EHRs, centralized and web-enabled, can back up and transfer data to more stable and less accessible storage systems quicker and easier than on-premise systems. 4) Physicians in hospitals and in larger practices treat different patients in multiple rooms. Cloud hosting allows peripatetic doctors to access EHRs from web-enabled laptops, tablets, and smartphones. 5) Healthcare providers that have already selected an on-premise EHR to their preference can quickly and without disruption transfer the deployment to the cloud.
Physicians convinced of the benefits of a cloud-based EHR and desiring the best in price, performance, and service should select IronOrbit as their hosting provider. IronOrbit deploys and manages HIPAA-compliant EHRs from Epic, Allscripts, NextGen, and others. Our patented Atomic Speed Technology and Orbital Security deliver industry-best processing speeds and data protection. And with our 24x7x365 technical service and performance monitoring, even in-hospital physicians working the graveyard shift receive optimal support.